Identifying Difficulties with Inference

Based on Wendy’s doctoral research, Identifying Difficulties with Inference (IDI) has been designed to enable teachers, speech-language therapists, educational psychologists and SENDCos/ASNCos identify difficulties with inference in children and young people aged around 8 to 16 years. In particular, IDI focuses on how pupils understand new or unfamiliar meanings of words and phrases in context. It looks at whether they are able to use context to work out which meaning is the most likely.

Difficulties with inference particularly affect pupils with pragmatic language difficulties and Autism Spectrum Disorders, including Asperger’s syndrome; these skills usually develop from around the age of 7 or 8 so it is at this time that any problems with inference start to show. Pupils who have more general learning difficulties also typically have difficulties with inference in the secondary school years.

IDI will enable you to detect problems early on which otherwise may go undetected until later. This is particularly important because difficulties with inference can lead to behavioural or emotional difficulties - it is the one area of comprehension where pupils can think they’ve understood when they haven’t - this is because Inference is to with understanding language that is open to interpretation. So the reactions pupils get may not be the ones they expect and this can lead to them feeling that they are being treated unfairly and create mistrust. IDI only takes around 20 minutes to administer so it can be used as a screening measure - it will flag up the difficulty and this can be explored further.

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Formerly part of the procedure Understanding Ambiguity, IDI includes

  • A summary of research into normal developmental patterns with diagnostic information relating to Autism Spectrum Disorders and developmental language difficulties

  • New information about the general principles of identifying difficulties with inference and the assessment of pragmatic comprehension

  • New information on interpreting students’ responses

  • Larger, more reliable pictures in colour

  • New comparison data on more than 250 non-impaired children.

IDI comprises a manual, CD and 50 record sheets. You can buy it on its own or as part of the Pragmatic Bookset (IDI, Into Inference and Language Choices). See below for prices and ordering information.

If you are using Understanding Ambiguity and would like more record sheets for the Inconsistent Messages of Emotions subtest please email

Want to take a look at IDI? Email to book a Skype call to view.

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